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Vendor lock-in and the challenge to Platform as a Service

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Josh McKenty OpenStack Solomon Hykes dotCloud Derek Collison Apcera Lucas Carlson AppFog Structure 2012
(L to R) Josh McKenty, CEO, Piston Cloud and Co-Founder, OpenStack; Solomon Hykes, Co-Founder and CEO, dotCloud; Derek Collison, Founder and CEO, Apcera; Lucas Carlson, Founder and CEO, AppFog
(c)2012 Pinar Ozger [email protected]

Platform as a Service (PaaS) has a bright future but one of the big concerns is vendor lock-in, which can prevent companies from making their applications portable. That’s going to be one of the big challenges for PaaS to grow, said Lucas Carlson, founder and CEO of AppFog.

Speaking on a panel at the GigaOM Structure conference Thursday, Carlson said every time a company adds a new service to an existing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider, there’s the danger of getting more entwined in their services, making it harder to move.

“You need to have the confidence that moving to another IaaS provider, a different data center or moving on premise if your data needs require it, that it’s not impossible,” said Carlson, who dressed in a prisoner outfit to make his point about the dangers of getting locked in.

But Solomon Hykes, Co-Founder and CEO of dotCloud, said there’s different kinds of lock-in concerns to worry about. Some of the early concerns about getting stuck using proprietary APIs have been addressed by companies like Heroku, which have championed the use of standard, open conventions. But he said there is still a danger of network proximity to third-party services where even if a company moves off, their application won’t follow.

Josh McKenty, CEO of Piston Cloud and Co-Founder, OpenStack said the real barrier is data. As companies tie up more and more data on one platform, they make it that much harder to move off because it takes so much time to transfer their data.

“We’ve moved into a future of massive amounts of data and computing. We’re dominated by the ability to move data around,” said McKenty. “Data is the lock in.”

Derek Collison, Founder and CEO of Apcera, however, offered a different view, saying that the bigger challenge of moving off Amazon (s amzn), for example, is not so much the data but the services tied to it.

“If had to look at moving a system off Amazon and I looked at what it cost me to move data versus the cost to re-architect around load balancers and auto scale groups that are not existent on the other (application server), I would look at that as more of a technical debt than moving the data,” he said.

Check out the rest of our Structure 2012 coverage, as well as the live stream, here.

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One Response to “Vendor lock-in and the challenge to Platform as a Service”

  1. Excellent article. They’re all correct, hat tip to Josh on the cost of moving data. Gotta love Lucas for the prison costume (more creative than VMware’s “Hotel California” Beach Boys copycat)!